Do not eat at Sticky Fingers unless you are feeling saucy. Some chain restaurants try to offer some other types of cuisine along with their specialty, but Sticky Fingers concentrates on what it does best: barbecued pork and chicken, all the time.
Now I know that all good Southerners, myself included, have deep emotional investments in their 'cue. So I'm going to give my disclaimer now: It's all personal taste. If you love Fincher's, or Fresh Air, or one of the other homegrown joints, more power to you.
But here's my assessment: Sticky Fingers barbecue is perfectly good although not spectacular. In my Macon 'cue-o-meter, Pig in a Pit is better (and in the same general area of town). White Lightning downtown is also quite competitive in quality, although you get less for the money and fewer sauce options there. But Sticky Fingers beats the rest of the mom 'n' pop barbecue joints, especially for ribs.
The ribs are tender-cooked and the chicken wings are fat and meaty. (You could get more meat off one Sticky Fingers wing than three or four at Buffalo's.) You order the meat and pick your sauce, except for the wings, which you sauce yourself. Six sauces are available in bottles at the table.
Here's the sauce rundown: The best is the "Carolina sweet," followed by the mustard and the habanero hot. The mustard sauce is a little sweet but has a nice after-kick. The habanero sauce is spicy but not overpowering, so you can still taste the meat under the sauce. We usually like whiskey sauces, but Sticky Fingers' Tennessee Whiskey sauce tastes weird somehow and is the worst option. The dry rub on the ribs was OK but a little TOO dry; I don't want to be able to blow it off with a good puff of wind, which I could.
We tried the sticky potato skins appetizer, with pulled pork, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce, and those were quite tasty. They are also available with smoked chicken. Other appetizers include cheddar fries, fried onions and chicken fingers.
My husband gave the baked beans and slaw a thumbs-up, and my salad was crisp with a good variety of toppings. There are a range of side dish options including green beans, cinnamon baked apples, mac and cheese and something we didn't try called "Southern style rice." The menu also includes a few desserts and a serviceable beer selection. The sweet tea is really, really sweet.
You can also buy big meals to go, like a whole smoked chicken and a pound of barbecue pork with large sides.
The decor at Sticky Fingers is unremarkable dark wood and brick in a typical seating-circling-the-bar-with-TVs layout. It was rather loud given that there wasn't a packed lunch crowd the day we were there.
Service was friendly and our lunch specials were delivered quickly. While waiting, we passed the time figuring out what our "blues names" would be (a la real-life Blind Lemon Jefferson), using the handy chart at our table.
Just pray you don't end up being Screamin' Pickles Malone or Toothless Chicken Hopkins.
At Sticky Fingers, I'm Blind Hips Dupree. And yes, I left feeling saucy.
You can basically construct your own sandwich, starting with the main ingredient (beef, turkey, veggie, grilled tenders or fried tenders) and bun (or salad), right down to the cheese, toppings, premium toppings ($1 extra for each) and special sauce.
There is such a variety that you could construct your own sandwich in such a way that you never order the same thing twice. On my two visits, my guests and I found that no matter the combination of choices, overall the food was good and left us all quite full for a while afterward.
5080 Riverside Drive, Suite 1700
2 an 1/2 stars
Phone: (478) 314-7427
Hours: Open daily at 11 a.m.
Price range: $6.49-$18.99
Payment: Cash, credit card
Reservations: No, but can call ahead to get on wait list
Kids menu: Sort of (couldn't find it on regular menu, but restaurant Web site shows a kids' build-your-own combo meal for $4.99)
Noise level: Moderate to high
Latest health rating: 86
Wheelchair accessible: Yes